Sugarcane farmers welcome new prices

Sugarcane farmers at the Kenyan Coast have hailed as positive a move by the government to increase cane prices delivered to millers.

Speaking to The Standard, Kwale Sugarcane Growers Association chairman, Mr David Ndirangu said that they were excited at the prospect of increased revenue accruing from selling their cane to millers.

In Kwale, there are about 1000 small scale cane farmers who grow sugarcane and supply it to the Kwale International Sugar Company (Kiscol) which was revived in the late 90s after the collapse of the Ramisi Sugar Company.

"This is likely to be a big boost to sugarcane farmers. Apart from giving us morale it will motivate us and help improve our lifestyles especially during these very depressing times with Covid -19 pandemic hitting us hard," Ndirangu said.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mr Peter Munya last week announced that an interim sugarcane pricing committee constituted by his Ministry had approved an increase in the price of a tonne of cane delivered from Sh3,700 to Sh4,040 effective April 1, 2021.

Ndirangu said that they have built trust with the management of Kiscol and remain upbeat about a continued collaboration to increase harvest and entice more farmers to take to cane farming in the region.

"We have a favourable weather condition and some of the best cane varieties that are fast maturing and disease-free," Ndirangu said.

The CS directed millers to adhere to the new prices while paying farmers.

He asked farmers who get lesser than what the government has set to report the millers to his office.

"Any case of non-compliance will attract a fine of not less than Sh500,000 or serve a year imprisonment as per Section 37 of the Crops Act,2013," the CS explained.

He noted cane prices to farmers had stagnated at Sh3700 since the last review done in 2018.

The CS said that they have had several consultative meetings with millers in a bid to ensure a win-win situation for both farmers and millers.
He said that they have witnessed new private millers being set up for example the West Kenya Sugar Company, Naitiri Unit in Bungoma County which is 80 per cent complete and targeting to be commissioned by August of 2021.
In the Coastal region, apart from Kiscol in Kwale County that has deployed the latest technique to grow its cane on its nucleus farm using drip irrigation, an application to grow cane and set up milling plants in the neighbouring counties of Kilifi and Tana River has been received.
Munya said that additional applications to set up milling plants have been received from Siaya, Kisii and Uasin Gishu counties respectively.
The CS noted that the sugar industry has steadily expanded over the years with the total area under cane growing having increased from 126,826 hectares in 2OO2 to 202,616 hectares at the end of 2020 thus signifying an increase of 60 per cent.
The CS said the increase was attributed to the fact that most of the private millers operating almost at their optimum capacities due to improved availability of mature cane for harvesting.

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